Sharing Jason Willaford’s Vinyls with Skeptical Teens

July 3, 2014

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By guest blogger Lucie Smoker

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“Why?” asked Fourteen when I suggested we stop to look at art.

Eighteen, the graduate, knew better than protest. He pulled up directions on his GPS. “Traffic. Mom, you shouldn’t be coming down here. We don’t have time.”

“Sure we do. I think you’ll like this exhibit. The artist repurposes old billboards…”

“Whatever,” said Fourteen, who hadn’t smiled much since his brother’s graduation. Kind of tough knowing his best friend would soon leave for college.

“It’s opening day so we might meet the artist,” I replied.

“I’m so excited,” said Fourteen.

Eighteen had earbuds in. (I made him take them out.) We started walking through the gallery.

“What do you boys think?”

“It’s okay.”

“Better than expected.”

Jason Willaford, Dallas, TX, The Old King, 2013, Vinyl and thread, 28” x 32” x 2”

Jason Willaford, Dallas, TX, The Old King, 2013, Vinyl and thread, 28” x 32” x 2”

I said, “I really like the colors in this one. They remind me of when you both were little: Thomas the Train.”

Fourteen said, “Looks like Thomas crashed, smiling.”

Eighteen pondered, “Think of all the vinyl he had to collect, climbing up poles or something. Then sewing it. I think that’s a lot of work. How much money does he get for one?”

“I don’t know. Fourteen, will you ask if it’s okay to take photos?”

“Why?”

Eighteen snapped, “Um, so Mom can take photos. What do you think?”

Fourteen rolled his eyes and wandered off—not in the direction of the information desk.

Jason Willaford, Dallas, TX, One Stop Shopping, 2012, Vinyl and thread, 80” x 92” x 4”

Jason Willaford, Dallas, TX, One Stop Shopping, 2012, Vinyl and thread, 80” x 92” x 4”

“You shouldn’t talk to him that way. It’s hard to be the younger brother right now. You should help boost his confidence.”

Fourteen wandered back over to us. I noticed he was smiling a little. “Some guy with tools said it was okay to take photos.”

“Thanks, but…” Not satisfied, I caught the attention of a docent. “Is it okay to take photos?”

Fourteen interrupted, “I already got permission. Some guy said it was okay.”

They compared notes on the guy’s appearance. The docent said, “That was the artist, Jason Willaford.”

Empowered to do the evil mom thing, I started annoying them with my clicking except Fourteen didn’t mind, even smiled. Eighteen liked the black and white vinyl; Fourteen, the melting cloud.

“It’s different. But you know, I could have made that.”

“Maybe,” I said, “but the artist thought of the concept, collected the vinyl and actually did it. Now you get to come up with your own idea.”

“Like with my music.”

“Sure, but more in the writing of new songs than playing.”

Eighteen interjected, “He’s already writing music.  And he’s good.”

“I have been writing some,” said Fourteen.

“And now you’ve met a famous artist,” said Eighteen on the day before his brother started sharing his music with me.

“Jason Willaford: Vinyl Exposed” is on view now through August 22 and Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing Blvd in OKC. Read more about the exhibition in the July/August issue of Art Focus Oklahoma.